Chief Henry Standing Bear was a strong, proud and progressive leader who believed that education was instrumental in preserving the culture and living heritage of the American Indian peoples. He was an eloquent writer and learned at an early age that he would be able to advance his ideals much more effectively using the mighty pen. This is evidenced in his invitation to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski in which Standing Bear communicated that he and his fellow chiefs wanted the world to know that "the Red Man has great heroes also." Once Korczak accepted Standing Bear's invitation he ensured education was an essential part of the mission at Crazy Horse Memorial. The dream that started with Standing Bear's desire was the genesis of what has become an incredible vision and story that remains in a state of becoming.
As with any great dream, Crazy Horse Memorial's education efforts started small. In 1978 the Crazy Horse Memorial scholarship program began with a single college scholarship of $250. Korczak called it a "modest effort now toward the future, long-range educational goals of Crazy Horse." Today the cumulative total awarded to American Indian students attending colleges or universities in South Dakota exceeds $2 million. Eligible applicants must be: American Indian students who plan to attend, or are attending a South Dakota college, university, vocational-technical school or tribal college. Crazy Horse Memorial does not process scholarship applications and is not involved in the selection process. Funds are distributed to qualifying colleges, universities and technical institutions and recipients are selected by the institutions of higher education. Interested students should contact the financial aid office at their college.
The educational efforts of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation were furthered in 2010 with the creation of the INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA® . The university summer program, offered in partnership with the University of South Dakota, serves to advance the educational goals of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation by offering accepted students a full semester of college and paid internships at the Memorial. Upon successful completion of the summer program; students will leave the instructional and residential facility at Crazy Horse with up to 12 transferable college credits. In the first six years of its history, 160 students and 26 tribes in 16 states have successfully completed the program. Of the students who have successfully completed the program and matriculated to a variety of colleges and universities around the country, 86% have been American Indian. Worth noting is that the national persistence rate for American Indians enrolled in college lingers around 15%, while annual tracking of the persistence of successful completers of the Summer Program in the first six years reveals an overall college persistence rate of 64% for all students and 59% in particular, for American Indian students. To date, several students who started their college studies at Crazy Horse have earned their college degrees.
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